Protecting yourself in a high-conflict divorce

| Aug 1, 2019 | Property Division

Maybe your spouse is just an angry person — or maybe your spouse is an outright narcissist who can’t function without trying to manipulate you and everyone else around you.

Whatever the root of the issue, you can be sure that you’re in for a bumpy ride once you make the decision to divorce. Angry, narcissistic people don’t take rejection well. They don’t like to acknowledge any failure on their part — so all the fault for the problems in the marriage will be laid at your feet. Their sense of being “wounded” can also be extreme. That makes many of these kinds of spouses feel like they are owed more (far, far more) than their fair share of the marital assets, custody and support.

Take some smart steps to protect yourself as soon as you decide to divorce:

1. Get all your financial documents before you leave

Unless you want to spend countless hours and a ton of money fighting for access to the financial records your spouse is holding, get copies of everything you can before you part ways. Yes, you can eventually get everything — but your spouse will make it as hard as possible on you.

2. Communicate in writing

No matter how trivial the issue, always put it in writing. For example, a text saying, “I am confirming that our son will be available for the custody exchange at noon today,” keeps your spouse from claiming that you never mentioned picking up your child.

3. Keep it public

You’re in danger of being accused of outrageous things — including physical abuse — when you’re dealing with this kind of manipulative, embittered spouse. Make all your interactions public. Have custody exchanges take place at the police station, and take a witness with you anytime you have to go to your home or engage in negotiations with your spouse.

4. Keep your attorney informed

Your divorce attorney’s job is to protect you from as much conflict and trouble as possible. He or she needs to know that your spouse is manipulative and “out for blood” in order to prepare your case. It can be difficult to negotiate normally over the division of marital property or custody with a spouse like that, so give your attorney advance notice.

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